Our attempt to find assurance by looking inward and measuring the quantity and quality of our love for Jesus is a fruitless task and rarely ends well. Thankfully, the grounds of our salvation is not our love for Jesus but His love for us.
John chapter 10 is the last of Jesus’ public confrontations with the Jews and marks the end of His public ministry to the unbelieving world of Israel. Believe it or not, Jesus only has about a week and a half left before His crucifixion, and in that time His attention returns to the disciples.
At the end of chapter 10, Jesus crosses the Jordan and hides out at one of John’s old haunts – the wilderness.
Just like Elijah, who judged all the false prophets in Israel then crossed the Jordan fleeing that woman Jezebel, so Jesus denounces the false teachers then crosses the Jordan and heads for the wilderness.
And like Elijah, when Jesus returns from the wilderness it will be to Glorify God in power, pass the mantle of authority on to the Apostles, a team of new Elisha’s, and then be lifted up into heaven.
Chapter 11 is a transition from His public ministry to the Jews to the private ministry and discipleship of His followers.
And one of the most well known of those followers was a man named Lazarus.
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha… So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:1-4)
There have been six miracles in John’s gospel so far. Turning water to wine, healing of the nobleman’s son, restoring the cripple by the pool, multiplying the loaves and the fishes, walking on water and curing the man born blind. Six miracles.
Now here comes miracle number seven and it’s the climactic miracle in John’s gospel.
Though Jesus has raised the dead before, in the case of Lazarus, the miracle is even more amazing because Lazarus had been in the grave four days and his body stinketh.
And it is in that situation when a man could not be any deader, that Jesus Christ creates new life.
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Lazarus is going to die so that the Son might be glorified and revealed for the all-powerful, all loving, Almighty God in the flesh that He is.
Jesus had said, “I am the bread of life,” and then He multiplied bread and fed a multitude. Jesus had said, “I am the light of the world,” …and then He gave light to sightless eyes. Here, Jesus says, ‘I am the resurrection and the life,” then He gives life to somebody who is dead.
Jesus has been inferring that He is God. Now He is going to vindicate this claim by being the Author of Life.
Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11:14-15)
When Jesus learns that Lazarus is dead, He is glad for our sakes. Why?
Because Jesus’ power to resurrect Lazarus will lead to a display of greater faith from His followers.
God does what He does in your life so you would grow in trust, and consequently, bring increasing glory to Him.
But perhaps most importantly, this event will bring glory to Jesus by revealing His love for us – and not our love for Him – as the determining factor in our salvation and resurrection.
Most children don’t find comfort in meditating on how much they love their parents but by remembering how much their parents love them. And this is what moves Martha and Mary to go and find Jesus.
Lord, he whom you love is ill. (John 11:3)
Martha and Mary don’t bribe Jesus with, “Come, and heal Lazarus, you know how much He loves you. He’s been so loyal to you these past three years.”
Likewise, their running to Jesus is not triggered by their love for Him, but because they trust that Jesus loves them and it’s His love for them that leads to faith.
All our running to Jesus should be motivated by the same belief. All our joy and thanksgiving and pleading are to be grounded in the same thing. Not our great love for Him, but His great and unchanging love for us.
So I guess the only question is, do you trust His love? His love for you in particular.